Pennsylvania chided for handling of elder abuse
HARRISBURG >> An internal Pennsylvania state government watchdog agency is criticizing how county-level agencies investigate thousands of complaints they receive about elder abuse and how the state ensures complaints are investigated adequately.
Among the shortcomings identified by the Office of State Inspector General were failures by some county-level agencies to properly investigate complaints under timelines required by state law and inadequate staffing of the state office that monitors those agencies.
A six-page summary of the report released this week also said investigative practices aren’t standardized across counties and it criticized training requirements for caseworkers as far too weak, particularly compared to model states.
Complaints can involve physical abuse, self-neglect or financial exploitation and Pennsylvania, like other states, is seeing a fastgrowing number of complaints that has forced some counties to hire more caseworkers to keep up.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said it has begun to address the report’s findings. In the days before it released the report’s summary, Wolf cleared out the top two officials in his Department of Aging, which oversees what is called protective services for people who are 60 and older.
The Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, which speaks for the 52 countylevel agencies, said those organizations and the Department of Aging “have made significant improvements” since the inspector general’s investigation began.
Wolf’s administration is not releasing the inspector general’s full 24-page report, although his office said that, in releasing the summary, it is being more transparent than the state’s long-standing practice of keeping such reports confidential.
The Associated Press in 2017 reviewed hundreds of pages of Department of Aging records and found the performance of ELDER >> PAGE 3